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Local students lend a hand rebuilding Iraq
St. Apollinaris third-graders, left to right, Dylan Hamilton, Jack England, Meghan Long, Connor Bacci, Wren LaVau, and Arilyn Martin surround Staff Sgt. Edward Clunies-Ross. Lianne Milton/Register LIANNE MILTON

A sea of students dressed in red, white and blue greeted Staff Sgt. Edward Clunies-Ross earlier this month, when he picked up goods for fellow deployed soldiers from students at St. Apollinaris Elementary School.

As part of Catholic Schools Week, students from St. A's collected goods for the Army's 351st and 445th Civil Affairs units, currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1,500 pounds of goods were collected in just one week. Items included snack foods, soap, shampoo, razors, games and toys to give to children.

Clunies-Edward, who is with the 352nd Combat Support unit, accepted the goods on behalf of the soldiers.

"It's great when soldiers get any letters from home, it makes things a little more bearable, thank you for supporting our troops," he said.

The idea to collect goods for the troops came from teacher's assistant Cheryl Jones and her husband, retired Col. Sam Jones. She said that from first-hand experiences they know what the soldiers are going through and know how important a gesture like collecting goods from home can be.

"The men get so lonely, and they want things they grew up with," Jones said. "Home … that's what they want … anything that reminds them of home."

The project was done in collaboration with the Red Cross' Operation Care and Comfort. The Red Cross will ship the items for the school.

In addition to goods, the K-8 students wrote letters to the men and women. In these letters the children expressed their praise and concern.

One third-grader wrote, "Thank you for keeping our freedom safe, and I hope you got to see the Super Bowl."

According to Principal Pat Granucci, one of the goals of the project was to teach students to "reach out to each other and others in need."

Several eighth-graders said they were proud of what their school accomplished.

"(Supporting troops) is important because they don't have places to go. … They need people thinking of them," said Andrew Kelly, 14.

"They are putting their lives out there and they need to feel loved," said Sara Muarner, 14.

To close the assembly, the school band played "America the Beautiful" while the third-graders sang the song and also performed it in sign language.

"We wanted to say thank you for protecting us and serving our country," said Granucci.icked up goods for fellow deployed soldiers.

In part with Catholic Schools Week, students from St. Apollinaris school collected goods for the 351st and 445th Civil Affairs units, who are currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 1,500 lbs of goods were collected in a period of just one week. Among the items gathered for the bay area soldiers are snack foods, soap, shampoo, razors, games and toys to give to children.

Clunies-Edward, who is with the 352nd Combat Support unit accepted the goods on behalf of the soldiers.

"It's great when soldiers get any letters from home, it makes things a little more bearable, thank you for support our troops," he said.

The idea to collect goods for the troops came from Teacher's Assistant Cheryl Jones and her husband, retired Col. Sam Jones. From first hand experiences they know what the soldiers are going through and know how important a gesture like collecting goods from home can be.

"The men get so lonely, and they want things they grew up with," she said. "Home…that's what they want…anything that reminds them of home."

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The project was done in collaboration with the Red Cross' Operation Care and Comfort. The Red Cross will ship for the goods for St. Apollinaris.

In addition to goods, the K-8 students wrote letters to the men and women. In these letters the children expressed thier praise and concern.

One third-grader wrote, "Thank you for keeping our freedom safe, and I hope you got to see the super bowl."

According to Prinicpal Pat Granucci, one of the goals of the project was to teach students to "reach out to each other and others in need."

Several eigth-graders said they strongly supported the project and were proud of what their school accomplished.

"(Supporting troops) is important because they don't have places to go…they need people thinking of them," said Andrew Kelly, 14.

"They are putting their lives out there and they need to feel loved," said Sara Muarner, 14.

To close the assembly, the school band played "America the Beautiful" while the third-graders sang the song and also performed it in sign language.

"We wanted to say thank you for protecting us and serving our country," said Granucci.

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